This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of May, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.
Date of publication: 22 May 2019
Media Outlet: Journalistenwatch – a far-right alternative media blog in Germany focussing on anti-Muslim rhetoric and other talking points of the so-called “New” Right
Headline: “Islamisation: Swiss Muslims force irreligious classmates to observe Ramadan”
Description of the anti-Muslim content: This JouWatch article picks up the story of a school in Switzerland where irreligious school children joined their Muslim peers in practising fasting for Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. This is considered an “alarming report“ by the article which goes on to point out that non-Muslim Swiss pupils do not have “fixed values” yet and are “therefore easy victims for the fundamentalist ‘missionaries’ of political Islam who have been trained since childhood.” The article cites an interview from the original report with one of the teachers at the school in question who says she saw “the children in the class encourage each other to fast.” However, the JouWatch article deems this to be coercion and a clear case of alleged “Islamisation” of European countries. This is emphasised in the conclusion of the article: while “bullying is of course a very elastic term”, the article infers that the “Islamisation and submission under the rules of Sharia are proceeding according to plan.”
Myth debunked: The article’s anti-Muslim sentiment manifests itself right from the beginning when the article frames school children as “missionaries” who have been “trained since childhood.” This conjures up mental images of an alleged “re-education” of the European population and of militarily drilled child soldiers. The latter is a reference to another narrative popular among right-wing populists and right-wing extremists, namely the existence of an alleged “invasion” of Europe. According to this narrative, all Muslims are foot soldiers in the large-scale cultural war between “the West” and Islam. Since this issue has been covered in previous monthly Media Monitoring Highlights, let us examine the use of the term “submission” in this context.
For one, this word evokes the existence of a nebulous and nefarious Islamic authority before which those lacking in moral strength are compelled to bow. Following this world view, anti-Muslim far-right media outlets such as JouWatch itself are thus framed as brave rebels with the noble cause of speaking truth to power. Moreover, by claiming that showing consideration for Muslims and their customs is an act of submission, the article implies that Islam is a powerful manipulative force but also that subservience acknowledges the existence of such a force, too. After all, submission is an active act, so submitting oneself to an authority presupposes the recognition of said authority. In one fell swoop, the article’s use of the term “submission” thus 1) insinuates the existence of an authority (Islam) to which one can submit, 2) imputes that the submitting party acknowledges this authority, and 3) denigrates all those showing consideration for Muslims by indirectly calling them cowards. The multifacetedness of the term might explain why it is has been used repeatedly in articles railing against the supposed “Islamisation” of Europe.
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